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Iowa Republican U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley on Wednesday refrained from directly weighing in on whether the Republican National Committee was right to censure two House Republicans for participating in House Democrats’ investigation into the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Grassley, though, seemed to echo Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who on Tuesday told reporters it's not the job of the RNC to single out members of the party who may have different views from the majority.
On a weekly conference call with Iowa reporters, Grassley said political parties need to "bring in as many members as you can" and that "the Republican Party ought to be a big tent party."
"Anybody and everybody is welcome," Grassley said. "And the best way to attract folks to the party is to concentrate on ... the strong things that we think will help us win a majority in Congress, like the perils that went on (with the U.S. military withdrawal) in Afghanistan," increasing crime, high inflation, border security, prescription drug pricing and helping cattle feeders.
The RNC voted last week to approve censuring U.S. Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois for sitting on a Democrat-led House committee that is aggressively investigating the riot and has subpoenaed many in former President Donald Trump's inner circle.
The RNC resolution accused the committee of leading a "persecution of ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse."
McConnell, speaking with reporters on Tuesday, criticized the RNC's censure and rejected its characterization of the Jan. 6 attack, calling it "a violent insurrection for the purpose of trying to prevent the peaceful transfer of power, after a legitimately certified election, from one administration to the next."
Asked whether the Jan. 6 insurrection was legitimate political speech or "an attack on American democracy itself" as he tweeted on Jan. 6, Grassley said "it's just like any crime committed breaking into a federal building."
"Breaking into a federal building is against the law ... and you'd expect people to be punished for it," he said.
Pushed on whether he disagreed with the way the RNC characterized the events of Jan. 6, Grassley said the controversy is one unimportant to Iowans.
"What you're asking me about, I don't hear from Iowans," Grassley said. "But I hear about all of these issues from Iowans (such as inflation, immigration and border security) so a party ought to stay focused on what Americans care about, what policies affect their families and what they can do to take back the Congress this fall. ... And so I'm concentrating on policies."
At least seven Iowans face charges for taking part in the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot. And Grassley was asked at a town hall last month: "Knowing that the FBI and Capitol Police were complicit in January 6, what have you done to get the political prisoners being held in gulag conditions out on bail since some have been held for more than a year?”
Grassley, according to video from the town hall posted by the left-leaning Iowa Starting Line, responded: "Speaking out on it is the only thing we can do" and that "what you said is accurate," appearing to accept the claim that violent rioters arrested for the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol were political prisoners and that federal and Capitol forces were complicit in the attack.
Asked about the exchange, the characterization of those arrested as political prisoners and attempts by party officials to whitewash the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, Grassley reiterated that those who breached the U.S. Capitol building "should be prosecuted."
"And those who break the law should be prosecuted, pretty simple," Grassley said.